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The Government has effectively betrayed farmers with its decision to rewrite the rules around management of the South Island High Country, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“It’s obvious Green Party Minister Eugenie Sage has a clear agenda to push High Country farmers off their land giving them very few options in regards to their future.

“In fact I believe the strict new regulations for farmers, will likely spell the end of High Country farming in New Zealand as we know it today.

“The Minister suggests her new regime will lead to ‘better management’ of the High Country, but I see this is an affront to the contribution that these farmers have already made to conserve, protect and develop the South Island High Country over many decades.

“The propsed changes will effectively make the discretionary consenting process for any future High Country land development virtually impossible, fees and charges will likely increase and farmers will now be required to regularly report against a Government monitoring framework.

“The Crown still currently leases pastoral property to 171 farmers and I’m particularly concerned about what the future holds for them.

“While there has been no suggestion of changes to the rental setting system on these leases, it appears that any future plans for land development will now face strict and inflexible criteria, costs will likely increase and farmers will be closely monitored in their activities against a predetermined framework.

"There are another 34 leaseholders currently in tenure review, with only eight being allowed to proceed, while the remaining 26 are out in the cold and left facing huge financial and emotional costs.

“National prefers a collaborative approach to high country management- between Government and farmers with long-term management plans. We urge all stakeholders to ensure their voices are heard before the eight-week consultation period ends on April 12.”

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